IT STARTED WITH $25 to buy a sewing machine from Craigslist when she was twenty, fulfilling a wish that has been building for years. Franchon Crews-Dezurn always had this passion, a way of seeing fashion design that others couldn’t.
With a machine in her fingers and a vision in her head, Crews-Dezurn taught herself how to sew. From changing the clothes on her Barbie dolls as she grew to creating outfits for her dogs and navigating her own style in high school, she’s always been like this.
She taught herself how to design clothes, turning her ideas into actual clothing, all while watching her boxing career take off. She designed her own outfits for her outside of the ring. She made boxing kits for her husband, pound for pound number one Claressa Shields, other fighters and, of course, herself.
Crews-Dezurn will show off one of his own kits, this time a collaboration with a top designer, when he defends his undisputed super middleweight titles against Savannah Marshall in Manchester, England on Saturday, continuing to unite two of the worlds. she plays inside
“She’s been kind of her own unique person,” Shields said. “I wasn’t surprised to see her make boxing uniforms and get into fashion. That’s just her. She has her own style.”
Crews-Dezurn may be the most interesting woman in boxing. She is an undisputed world champion. She is a fashion designer; In addition to her combat kits, she had her first fashion show for a clothing line last year in Baltimore.
And she is a singer. She has sung the national anthem at sporting events and released a single in May, “Secret Place,” on Patriark Records, the independent label of her manager, Peter Kahn. ‘Secret Place’ peaked at number 30 on the Music Week Commercial Pop Club charts in the UK last week. The full album is expected to be out next year.
All this from someone who was once told this: “You can’t be good at everything, you know what I mean. And you’re a good fighter.” Simon Cowell, yes. that Simon Cowell told Crews-Dezurn that on national television during a 2005 audition for “American Idol,” where Randy Jackson also encouraged her to “keep working on it” and that she wasn’t ready yet.
she was 17
She made no progress that day, and as she left the room, she said that she would become a world champion boxer, which she has. Because if one thing is clear, if she tests Crews-Dezurn, she’ll do whatever it takes to prove her wrong. And dress nicely doing it.
TEAMS-DEZURN STARTED considering designing clothes for one simple reason.
“I was broke,” Crews-Dezurn said. “With expensive tastes.”
When shopping for clothes, she found herself continually trying to modify them to suit her own style. Eventually, she thought that he should try to do this on his own.
Doing so led her to play around with the boxing outfits. She bought the sewing machine in the mid-2010s and began experimenting, a period of trial and error for the self-taught seamstress. Shorts that she made early in the split during a fan brawl. She saw, and still sees, her husband, Glenn Dezurn, as her muse. Also a fighter, he was the first to wear his creations. When she turned pro in 2016, he became more serious. Her first fight was against Shields, on two weeks notice.
“I had to have something flashy,” Crews-Dezurn said. “I knew what I was up against, so I had to look good, win, lose or draw, so I threw something.”
He lost to Shields, the only professional loss of Crews-Dezurn’s career, but others took notice of his in-ring fashion. He led Crews-Dezurn to consider a small side business as a fighter who knows the importance of looking good and feeling good stepping into the ring with early clients like fellow boxers Raquel Miller and Tiara Brown. The accolades he received gave him confidence as he designed his own fight kits, including last year when he defeated Elin Cederroos for the undisputed super middleweight title.
She charges for the kits, Crews-Dezurn declined to say how much she asks, in part because it depends on the fabric, design, and build time of the creation involved. She continued to grow her business through word of mouth and her Instagram buzz.
Then a phone call came through, putting his designs on a different platform.
THE STORIES VARY FROM who made the initial suggestion, but the message was clear: Claressa Shields needed a fight uniform for when she fought Hannah Rankin in 2018. Shields again turned to her friend-turned-opponent-turned-friend for help.
Crews-Dezurn came up with a design he called ‘Flintstone,’ a pink and purple combination with wavy texture and a gold waistband on the briefs with “FLINT” in white lettering, a tribute to Shields’ hometown of Flint, Michigan.
“He did a great job on my uniform and he knows how everything is supposed to look because we’re the same in some ways,” Shields said. “And we just put our minds together and she does a great job.
“It’s like we’re always a part of each other’s fights in some way.”
A long-term collaboration began between the two. Shields will tell you the colors of their fight and the general theme he has chosen, although they sometimes brainstorm about that as well. Then he’ll let Crews-Dezurn believe it.
She created a combination of a Muhammad Ali tribute along with a broken hammer in her trunks for Shields’ undisputed title fight against Christina Hammer. She also designed perhaps the most notable, the American flag design when Shields fought Savannah Marshall in the UK for the undisputed middleweight championship in 2022.
The design had similar carryovers to the American flag shorts designs in ‘Rocky IV’ and ‘Creed 2′, but with a flare: Shields’ fit and also his elaborate dance ring walk. As part of the initial outfit, Crews-Dezurn designed a tunic for Shields and brought it to Florida, where she was training. Two weeks before the fight, Shields wanted a shorter jacket.
Crews-Dezurn was training and turned to her husband and said, “I’ve got to find a sewing machine.” She created the jacket with the portable sewing machine that she travels with.
“I’m really serious about being a stylist and designer,” Crews-Dezurn said. “Because that’s what it’s about.”
How serious is your job? On the night of Shields-Marshall, Crews-Dezurn was in the crowd watching when she was called backstage to sew one of her sponsor’s patches onto Shields’ shorts at the last minute. For Crews-Dezurn, it’s just part of the gig.
THE WORK OF CREWS-DEZURN with Shields led other clients. She dressed flyweight champion Marlen Esparza, junior lightweight contender Maureen Shea, former junior featherweight champion Isaac Dogboe and DeAngelo Leachman, a cruiserweight prospect.
Ideally, Crews-Dezurn would like four to six weeks’ notice. This gives her time to make sure she can purchase the necessary fabric and finish the idea.
Crews-Dezurn often does not sketch out the designs, and will often “free-design” a plan unless a wrestler comes up with a concept in advance. She treats her clients like high-end designers in the fashion world treat theirs. If she needs something on short notice, as long as she doesn’t affect her own fights, she will do it.
“I take the approach like a true designer,” Crews-Dezurn said. “And if you see some of the musicians, like Beyonce or someone like a high-profile celebrity, when their stylist calls a designer and says, ‘Hey, I need this in three days,’ that designer does it.
“That’s the concept I take.”
His work has also caught the attention of those outside of boxing. She had her first fashion show at LEVEL 25-THE GOLDEN AGE in November as part of a celebration of The Katwalk, a clothing boutique in Baltimore.
In a combination of her boxing and fashion worlds merging, she gained a mentor. Magda Kahn spent 16 years at Perry Ellis International, eight as the company’s design director before becoming her own designer and stylist.
The wife of Crews-Dezurn’s manager, Peter, Magda saw Crews-Dezurn’s work in the ring and out of it. Peter and Crews-Dezurn started working together during the pandemic and Peter had Crews-Dezurn come to his office, where Magda also has her design studio. They connected instantly.
“She told me, ‘I do everything I can, but I don’t know much,'” Magda said. “And I said, ‘I’m going to try to prepare you and teach you and guide you so that you learn the important things about the world of fashion and you can develop your style.'”
It became a mentorship with Magda, who works with private clients in the US and UK for custom nightwear. They’re texting collaborative design ideas and concepts all the time, including for this weekend, when Magda and Crews-Dezurn designed their wrestling outfit.
Magda said that working with Crews-Dezurn was seeing someone who “knows exactly how they want to look.” Rare, Magda said, is someone without years of experience in the industry who has a definite sense of style like Crews-Dezurn.
“The kind of insight I’m going to get from her…” Crews-Dezurn said. “I’m like, people for years would die from this.”
Which led to the design of Saturday. It has ties to her first single, ‘Secret Place’, which is influenced by Donna Summer, fusing all three of Crews-Dezurn’s passions into one.
“The artist is what her essence is, which is a singer. She is an athlete. She is a diva,” said Magda. “But her soul shines wherever she goes.”
CREWS-DEZURN WILL Step into the ring on Saturday night with your three approaches: the fashion, the fight and behind the power of your voice. It’s what he’s built his multifaceted career on.
She’ll be wearing a design she helped create and heading into a ring as one of the top 10 wrestlers in the world, in the same time period, her first single is charting in the country she’s wrestling in.
Crews-Dezurn started writing songs when she was eight and taught herself to sing, her first love, at 12. She started playing with fashion as a child and became a self-taught fashion designer who, Magda said, has a future. as a stylist.
And then she fought and fought, working her way up through the amateurs and the pros to become an undisputed champion.
“I’m basically applying pressure across the board,” Crews-Dezurn said. “Boxing and fashion, singing, management, film, whatever I want to do, I’m pushing.”
It’s a far cry from Cowell, who may have been very, very wrong. If Crews-Dezurn is one thing, it’s this: she’s good, better than good, at almost everything he does.